'Senators' bipartisan discussions continued all day yesterday and through the night. Both sides' negotiators, with the Administration, are continuing to work toward a bipartisan agreement on major legislation to support American workers and families, protect small businesses, help stabilize our economy, and put more resources on the front lines of our healthcare battle against the coronavirus... It is time to come together, finalize the results of our bipartisan discussions, and then close this out.'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
"Senators' bipartisan discussions continued all day yesterday and through the night.
"Both sides' negotiators, with the Administration, are continuing to work toward a bipartisan agreement on major legislation to support American workers and families, protect small businesses, help stabilize our economy, and put more resources on the front lines of our healthcare battle against the coronavirus.
"As of now, an agreement has yet to be finalized. But our committee chairs, their Democratic counterparts, and President Trump's representatives are making important progress.
"Yesterday, I took action on the floor to keep this process moving with the urgency that it demands.
"By rule, it set up our first procedural vote for tomorrow. And then on Monday, the Senate will vote on passage.
"It has only been two days since Senate Republicans introduced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, to give shape and structure to these urgent discussions.
"We put forward four objectives:
1. Put emergency cash in the hands of individuals and families, as quickly as possible...
2. Deliver the major relief that American small businesses need at this unprecedented time, and deliver it fast...
3. Help bring some stability to our economy and prevent as many layoffs as possible...
And 4. Continue to rush resources to the frontline healthcare workers and providers who are treating patients.
"And perhaps most important of all, we looked specifically for policies that could do all of the above as quickly as humanly possible.
"Small businesses across this country have made it clear: If they're going to keep their lights on and keep their employees on payroll, they need help and they need it now.
"Americans who have already been laid off due to this crisis have made it clear: They need help and they need it now.
"Key national industries, which are hemorrhaging business through no fault of their own but due to the government's own public health guidance, have made it clear: In order to retain their workers, they need help and they need it now.
"And in particular, every single American who has opened a newspaper or turned on the television in the last week has heard from our brave nurses, doctors, first responders, and public health experts: If our nation is going to punch back and beat this virus, the people on the medical front lines need help and they need it now.
"Senate Republicans put out our starting proposal as fast as we could. Then, I created a structure for bipartisan discussions to begin as fast as they could.
"No legislation will move through the Senate that does not contain ideas from both parties. That is a fact, because of the way this body is designed.
"So these bipartisan talks have been essential. And they are ongoing. But what we need to do now is move forward.
"Two days ago, the press reported that a senior member of House Democratic leadership told his colleagues, quote, "This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision."
"Well, let me suggest that is exactly the wrong approach right now. That is exactly the kind of thinking that could bog down these urgent discussions. That is exactly the kind of mindset that the American people cannot afford for their elected representatives to adopt. I hope it does not describe the view of our own Senate Democratic colleagues as we close out these talks.
"More Americans are being laid off every day. More small businesses are being forced to shed payroll every day. Our nurses and doctors are running lower on key supplies every day.
"This is not a political opportunity. This is a national emergency.
"It is time to come together, finalize the results of our bipartisan discussions, and then close this out.
"Earlier this week, I had the Senate move quickly to pass the more modest bill that came over from the Democratic House of Representatives. I didn't believe it was perfect — far from it.
"But Senate Republicans did not delay it needlessly. We did not try to originate our own version and burn several more days trying to fit them together.
"Instead, we treated that bill with the bipartisanship and the urgency that this crisis requires.
Since then, the situation has only grown more dire. So I hope that our Senate Democratic colleagues, and the Democratic House, will bring equal bipartisanship and equal urgency to this legislation as well.
"In closing, I think that all of us could take a lesson from our constituents. As we finish negotiating and finalize bold legislation, we should look to the American people.
"Everywhere you look, these past days, individuals, families, and organizations are stepping up to the plate and finding creative ways to serve those in need.
"One of my fellow Kentuckians is a woman named Erin Hinson. Erin lives in Louisville. She is someone whom doctors have told to be particularly careful these past few days, so her opportunities to pitch in were somewhat limited, but she was determined to do her part.
"Here's what she said: "I may never have the capacity to develop a vaccine or a magic pill to get rid of COVID-19..., but I can master a spreadsheet."
"Erin created a website — Louisville COVID 19 Match dot com. There is one sign-up sheet for neighbors who are older or at heightened risk, and another sign-up sheet for neighbors who are young and healthy. And Erin is performing a kind of match-making service.
"If someone needs a prescription picked up, or some groceries delivered, or even a friendly phone call, she helps make the connection.
"With a little help from local media, Erin is already tracking more than 400 volunteers, from every Louisville ZIP code.
"It's the perfect manifestation of Kentucky's state motto: "United we Stand, Divided we Fall."
"United we stand — even if we have to stand six feet apart for a few weeks. And divided we fall.
"Brave, and generous, and creative Americans all across our nation get it.
"They just need their Congress to get it, too.
"I am impressed and heartened by the speed and bipartisan spirit that has characterized the past day's discussions. But we need to keep it up. We absolutely cannot let up now.
"We need to finish up these negotiations and move forward."